Business Irish

Friday 13 December 2019

Th€ Punt: Cable reveals his short fuse

THE Punt always enjoys dealing with visiting luminaries. Certainly it breaks up the monotony of dealing with the same executives and politicians on the Irish circuit.

Yesterday it was the turn of UK business secretary and Liberal Democrat 'big beast' Vince Cable, who was in town to speak at the British-Irish Chamber of Commerce's annual conference.

Mr Cable is notorious for his willingness to speak his mind and his reputed short fuse. We got a hint of that short fuse after his speech.

Speaking to reporters he was asked about his party's apparently similar policies to their Tory coalition colleagues.

He cut off the reporter's question to make clear that he had not said his party was "close" to the Conservatives.

"I didn't say we were close. All I was saying was there are some important common elements that will prevent the uncertainty [caused by Britain's referendum on EU membership] spinning out of control," he snapped.

Mr Cable is well-known for his frosty relationship with the Conservative party and he clearly bristled when another reporter asked him about Tory plans to renegotiate its relationship with Europe.

The Conservatives apparently plan to opt out of around 130 EU directives on justice and immigration, but it is clear the Lib Dems have not yet signed up to this.

"That's not agreed," he said brusquely.

"We will have a 'review of competencies' [in each government department] to look at what powers could be returned from Europe.

"I'm sure the Conservatives would like some powers returned, we may have a different view of it and that will need to be worked out before negotiations."

The Punt would love to be a fly on the wall when these matters are "worked out".

Irish Independent

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